Historic Akron church goes up in flames

AKRON, Ohio -- A piece of Akron history went up in flames early Thursday.

Firefighters were called to the old St. Paul's Episcopal Church at the intersection of East Market and Forge Streets around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

"They did encounter heavy smoke when they arrived," Mark Marcinkoski, Acting PIO, Akron Fire Department, said. "They could see flames coming through the window."

Marcinkoski said firefighters tried to battle the flames from the inside, but the flames and smoke were too thick so they pulled back into a defensive mode. It took firefighters several hours to get the three-alarm fire under control.

The church, which was vacant, was built back in 1885 and 1909, according to the Preservation Akron website.

The University of Akron has owned it for the past quarter century, Nathan Mortimer, VP Finance Administration, said.

"It's seemingly a sad end to a very iconic building here in Akron," Mortimer said.

"It's been vacant for the last number of years," Mortimer said. "We've been studying and talking lately about what we're going to do with the building. "

Firefighters managed to keep the fire from spreading from the church to another building.

"It's actually two buildings with a breezeway connecting in the middle," Marcinkowski said. "So far the second building is not affected."

It was still too soon to know what caused the fire.

According to Preservation Akron, the church played a role in the establishment of Alcoholics Anonymous which was founded in Akron back in 1935.